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July 29, 1968: Duluth UFO researcher testifies before congress

On this day in 1968, native Duluthian and Unidentified Flying Object researcher James E. McDonald testified before Congress along with four other men. McDonald along with prominent scientists Carl Sagan, J. Allen Hynek, Robert L. Hall, James A. Harder, and Robert M. L. Baker Jr. testified before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Astronautics at a special UFO hearing. McDonald told the committee that, based on his research, “we must rapidly escalate serious scientific attention to this extraordinarily intriguing puzzle.” According to Duluth historian David Ouse, McDonald believed that the Air Force—the government body charged with investigating UFO sightings through their Project Blue Book—was not doing an adequate job and was, in fact, dismissing many credible reports. He was also highly critical of a report released the following year that recommended no further UFP research. McDonald then went on a campaign to argue against his finding. His life quickly took a turn—fellow scientists mocked him, he thought he was being followed, and his research and photographic evidence was stolen. His wife asked for a divorce in March of 1971, and a month later he committed suicide. Read a much more complete biography of James McDonald here.

UFO researcher and native Duluthian James E. McDonald. (Image: University of Arizona)